social services

New Partnership to Aid Sebastopol-Area Homeless

May 5, 2017
Bruce Robinson / KRCB-FM

For years, the aging Village Park campground and trailer park at the eastern edge of Sebastopol was a problem site, subject to flooding, poverty and other issues. Now it is poised to help answer to the city’s homelessness concerns.

As a nod to the changes at the property—which will continue to be owned by city of Sebastopol-- it will be formally renamed Park Village. West County Community Services will become a key presence there, adds Executive director, Tim Miller.

Rethinking How to End Homelessness

Jan 30, 2017

To cure homelessness, give priority to the most challenging individuals. That radical rethinking of the issue served as the starting point for the two-day Summit on Homeless Solutions that began Monday  in Santa Rosa.

 Using a triage process--similar to that employed in a hospital's emergency room-- to determine who among the homeless is in the greatest need may seem like a resource-intensive approach.  And in some ways it is. But in the big picture, says Iain De Jong, it is also surprisingly cost-effective.

Few Options for Drenched, Flooded Homeless

Jan 11, 2017
Sonoma County Regional Parks

Even before the latest series of cold and wet winter storms raked the North Bay, some 1000 homeless people were living outdoors in the elements across Sonoma County. And service providers have been able to offer little more to help them as the weather worsened.

Highway 101 overpasses near downtown Santa Rosa. That has upset nearby homeowners and residents, which is understandable, says Heidi Prottas, Executive Director of the Sonoma County Task Force for the Homeless. But the homeless there have no other options.

A More Robust Homeless Court to Debut

Apr 8, 2016
Heidi Walters, North Coast Weekly Journal

  When a new Sonoma County court program for homeless individuals debuts on Thursday, it will incorporate new partnerships and increased supports for the defendants.

The way these cases are handled within the court system have changed very little since the previous attempts to have Homeless Court sessions locally, says Jose Guillen, Sonoma County’s Court Executive officer. What’s different now is the participation of additional support agencies outside of the courts.

  A significant share of Petaluma’s homeless population are addicted to alcohol or drugs, so a new program there is offering expedited treatment as a first step toward getting housed.

  For some people, says COTS CEO Mike Johnson, a decision to finally seek help and get clean and sober requires some extra pressure, such as the treat of a jail term. And the length of that threatened term makes a difference.

The Sober Circle is still in its early days, and program director Robin Phoenix says there have been a few little bumps along their learning curve.

Bruce Robinson, KRCB

  he number of people with autism in Sonoma County is both growing and aging. A newly launched program at Becoming Independent in Santa Rosa is designed to aid young adults on the spectrum in navigating life beyond school.

  Because of the widespread need for programs like becoming Independent’s new “Passport to Independence, CEO Luana Vaetoe foresees a time when they may be able to export it to other sites.

Inside a California Mentor Household

May 18, 2015
Bruce Robinson, KRCB

  California Mentor is a Family Home Agency that pairs local households with adults with developmental disabilities in a family environment. Today the people in one such match tell their story.

   The California Mentor program, which is looking for additional host households, has local offices in Santa Rosa and Napa ,two of  18 in the state. Adam Barngraff, who manages the Napa office, says it is a concept that originated in the Boston area about 40 years ago.

  A new model for integrating adults with developmental disabilities into their surrounding communities has them living with willing families and becoming part of the household. California Mentor is the progam making that happen here in the North Bay.

Not only is there a growing number of clients hoping to find a Mentor household to join, but Adam Barngraff, program manager for California Mentor in their Napa office, explains that they try to have several options to offer each client.

Public Funds Just Seed Money in Fighting Homelessness

May 5, 2015

County supervisors on Tuesday readily accepted a plan to spend nearly $2.8 million in federal funds on projects to address homelessness and poverty in Sonoma County. But they know the annual grants are not keeping pace with the local needs.

  Since the 2008 recession kicked in, Social Advocates for Youth has recognized a need to reduce their dependence on government funds to support their programs, says Executive Director Matt Martin.

Addressing Adverse Childhood Experiences

Apr 23, 2015

  ACEs—Adverse Childhood Experiences—have been identified as a frequent root cause of poor health and bad behaviors. Now, efforts to lessen their long-term consequences are beginning to take hold.

   Recently, Jane Stevens has applied her journalism skills and background to the creation of a pair of online resources about ACES. The website Aces Too High, she explains, is intended for the general public, while ACES Connection is meant for social service and other professionals.

Sonoma County’s Hunger Index

Feb 18, 2015
Redwood Empire Food Bank

 Sonoma County is widely known for the quality and variety of foods and beverages grown and produced here. But a lot of people aren’t able to enjoy that bounty. A public forum Thursday afternoon hopes to refocus attention on the problem and what can be done to address it.

 Sonoma County’s 35.5 million missed meals in 2014 is a stunningly large number. Gail Atkins, Director of Programs for the Redwood Empire Food Bank, explains how it was calculated.


A Plan for Serial Inebriates

Feb 9, 2015

  Frequent substance abusers are costing Sonoma County millions of dollars every year. So a coalition of service providers is examining alternatives to get better results through alternative programs.

  San Diego's Serial Inebriates Program was launched in 1999, says Deni McLagan, that city's Mental Health Services Program Manager. And it was  a police officer, John Leining, who first pushed for a new approach to the problem of chronic public drunkenness, when dispatcher calls to pick up the same individuals over and over had become a large part of his regular patrol shifts.

Addressing Latinos’ Mental Health Needs

Oct 17, 2014

  The overall health needs of California’s Latino population are widely underserved. That shortfall is even greater when it comes to mental health services.

Mental illnesses are not exactly contagious, noted Dr. Sergio Aguilar-Gaxiola, Director of the Center for Reducing Health Disparities at UC Davis, but within families they can be readily shared, especially between parents and children.

State of the Latino Community 2014

Oct 2, 2014

  Los Cien, an emerging Sonoma County Latino leadership group, held its first “State of the Latino Community” forum yesterday, where the main topics were poverty, education and health. KRCB’s Bruce Robinson was there, and has this summary.

  You can hear David Grusky’s full keynote talk from the Los Cien gathering Thursday morning. It’s posted below.

Foster Youth Service Organization Expands Southward

Sep 30, 2014
Bruce Robinson, KRCB

  VOICES is an innovative, youth-led program offering support services for kids who have aged out of foster homes. The name is an acronym for Voice Our Independent Choices for Emancipation Services.  They began seven years ago in Napa, and expanded to Santa Rosa in 2009. Now the group has moved beyond the North Bay to launch a third site.

Find out more about VOICES on their website.

The group's move into Monterey County was widely covered in local media there. Here's one example.

Resources Expanding for Sonoma County’s Homeless

Sep 28, 2014

  As winter approaches, hundreds of homeless individuals and families in Sonoma County will have some additional resources available this year—although they are still not enough to serve that sizable population.

  Roughly a third of the homeless population in Sonoma County are young people, under the age of 25, so there is a critical need for services tailored for them, says Georgia Berland, Executive Director of the Sonoma County Task Force on the Homeless.